Friday, May 04, 2012

The Concert

(a sketch)

Two men are pressed close to each other in a long line waiting to get into a sold out concert. The line is tight and people are being bumped.  Tensions are running high.

Bouncer (shouting): Doors open in 2 minutes! Please have your tickets ready so this line will move as fast as possible!

Everyone is quite uncomfortable. Eventually the underlying tension is released and a confrontation is initiated. Near the middle of the line, a man unleashes on another man who is directly behind him. 

Man 1: What the fuck man!?! Stop fuckin’ touching me!

Man 2: Fuck you! I can’t move at all! Go fuck yourself you fuckin’ bitch!

The two men are nearly touching noses; ready to fight.

Man 1: Fuck you jerk off! I’ll fuck you up!

Man 2: Dude. I’ll kick your ass. Seriously.

Man 1: Fuck off. I’ll break your fuckin’ nose.

Man 2: Go fuck yourself! I’ll break your fuckin’ face!

Both men back up a small amount and share a brief moment of silence.

Man 1: Really? My face?!

Sounding a bit sarcastic…

 Man 1: I’ll break off your fuckin’ legs! How about that?!?

The two share several awkward glances.

Man 2: I’ll break your heart.

Man number 1 takes a few steps back, knocking people out of the way. 

Man 1: What?

Man 2: I’ll break your heart.

Man 1: What the fuck?

Man 2: We’d go on a first date, really hit it off, I’d be perfect. Really, that guy you’d tell all your friends about. You’d probably even update your Facebook status with some shit about how your life might not be so fucked after all and how maybe things might just work out. And then I wouldn’t call. No reason. I just wouldn’t fuckin’ call. So fuck you.

Man 1 steps forward towards man number 2; completely unaffected by the severity of the comment.

Man 1: Dude. That’s a fucking week and a bottle of Jack Daniels. Fuck off. I’d fuckin’ date you. Really. I’d learn your fuckin’ favorite color. I’m serious. I’d tell inside jokes in front of other people just to let them know how close we were. We’d be off condoms even. Then I’d fuckin’ disappear. New number. New email. Not a goddamn thing left.

Man 2: Fuck off.

Man 1: No joke. You fucked with the wrong dude mother fucker!

A slightly awkward, but also slightly understanding, moment of silence.

Man 2: We’d be married in Autumn.

Man 1: What!

Man 2: You heard me pussy. We’d fuckin’ marry in Autumn. I like it when the leaves change. It’s fuckin’ romantic. What the fuck! But that’s not it. We’d be in love. I’d fuckin’ make you fall in love with me. And then I’d fuckin’ cheat on you. Yep. With some clichĂ© ridden fuck too. I’d cheat on you with an Evangelical preacher. Fuck yes.

Man 1 is disturbed, but regains his composure.

Man 1: I’d have your child.

Man 2: That’s not even fuckin’ possible you dumb fuck.

Man 1: I would. I’d invent some shit. Have you seen “Junior”? It’d be weird at first, but over generations people would learn to except it. And I’d wait that long. I’d fuckin’ love you. Marry you. Bear your fuckin’ goddamn children- only to leave you when our first born is waiting for her dad to walk her down the aisle.

Man 2: You wouldn’t!

Man 1’s hand is now on man 2’s shoulder.

Man 1: I would.

Man 2 cracks a sheepish smile.

Man 2: Hospice care.

Man 1: What?

Man 2: I’d love you too. We’d get married. I would have your fuckin’ big-headed children. I’d fight in the great war, only to come back to you a hero. We’d be happy. We’d read Readers’ fuckin' Digest. Then on your deathbed- yes- I’d ask for a moment alone. One last fleeting moment with the man I have loved for half a century- it would be perfect. Then I’d leave you. I’d walk out the mother fuckin’ door! Nothing. Not a fuckin’ word. You would die alone.

Both men take a step back and stare at each other for several seconds. Just then they notice the rest of the line is no longer there, and hasn’t been for some time. The concert has clearly started. Realizing this, their eyes meet, only then to break out in a sloppy, spontaneous kiss.

Man 2: I should call us a cab.

Man 1: I already did.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I Like my Justice, and Diamonds, Bloody

Historically, Charles Taylor isn’t that interesting. History certainly has produced no shortage of despots. What makes him a likely footnote in future textbooks is that he got caught. He, like Bernie Madoff, was tried and convicted.  Mr. Taylor, it would appear, was big enough to be a bastard to many, but not big enough to be “our bastard,” as the famous quote goes.

It’s been a few years since Hollywood made us associate Leonardo DiCaprio’s boyish grin with the phrase “blood diamond,” but the diamond industry hasn’t forgotten. I never gave it much thought until I went looking for a ring for my soon to be wife. Given her family is from diamond-rich west Africa, we both decided it would be the height of poor taste to not at least have some idea of where our public display of love came from. Don’t get me wrong, I have no illusions in global capitalism creating an equitable structure to extract and trade shiny rocks rich people collect, but if I can get a cup of “fair trade” coffee one would think I could at least find a shred of assurance my beautiful fiancĂ© wouldn’t be facebooking  pictures of her new ring mined by an eight year old cousin from back home?

As it turned out, I couldn’t. No one knew where the diamonds came from. I tried small jewelers, I tried big. No one had a clue. As you might suspect, no one wanted to talk about it. But after some uncomfortable pressing, they would all proudly proclaim they didn’t deal with “conflict diamonds.” Sure. But how did they know? They didn’t. But whatever. I didn’t expect them to know any more than I expect the "sandwich artist" at Subway to know which factory farm produces their tasteless tomatoes. In the end I went with a diamond-less ring (which has the added benefit of being much cheaper).

The United Nations backed  “Special Court for Sierra Leone” had been effectively ignored up until the Taylor verdict. Like Samantha Powers dedicating some generic human rights award to a nameless, as well as limbless, child, the media has finally given us the pat on the back we needed for the moment. Who has time to understand the where and why when they’ve already firmly told us the who, what, and when?

The trick to sacrificing someone is to make sure they’re guilty. It is a huge mistake to sacrifice someone with even a shred of respectability. But, still, I must ask, where can a find a “conflict free” commodity of any sort, let alone a diamond? One of the major contradictions, and if we are honest, geniuses, of capitalism is divorcing production from consumption. I’ve been manufacturing commodities for over a decade and I’ve, at least to my knowledge, never used one of the glorified widgets I’ve produced. Alienation has created a fair amount of apathy. (Hey, that’s a good slogan to put on a three dollar mass-produced t-shirt!)

Charles Taylor isn’t “our bastard” because he is a authoritarian murderer. No, we’ve got plenty of those in our little black book. Charles Taylor tried to buy low and sell high outside accepted international frameworks. And, certainly most damning for him, he did so in such a manner that his conviction filled our belly of emotions full of righteousness for some time. (Taylor’s purported mentor, Muammar Qaddafi, learned this lesson a bit too late.)

I hope everyone’s hungry, because justice is served!